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Chapter 15 - The Revolt of 1857 And Social & Cultural Uprisings

The revolt of 1857
Causes of the Revolt

Political Causes
  • The Doctrine of Lapse, particularly its practical application by Lord Dalhousie, produced grave discontent and alarm among the native princes, who were directly affected.
Economic Causes
  • The British damaged the Indian trade and manufacture by imposing a high tariff in Britain against Indian goods, and by encouraging all means the import of British goods to India.
  • A 'new plantation system' introduced in the year 1833 resulted in incalculable misery for the Indian peasants. The hard hit were the peasants on the indigo plantations in Bengal and Bihar.
Social Causes
  • The Englishmen showed an arrogant attitude towards the Indians. Indiscriminate assaults on Indians by Englishmen became quite common.
Military causes
  • The Indian sepoys in the British Indian army nursed a sense of strong resentment at their low salary and poor prospects of promotion
  • The Vellore mutiny of 1806, a precursor to the 1857 Great Revolt.
The Beginning of the Revolt
  • The new Enfield rifle had been introduced for the first time in the Indian army.
  • The grease was composed of fat taken from beef and pig.

  • On March 29, 1857 at Barrackpore (W.B.), Mangal Pandey (a Sepoy) refused to use the greased cartridges and single-handedly attacked and killed his officer. Mangal Pandey was hanged (in 19th and 34th Native infantry).
  • Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II was proclaimed the Emperor of India.
  • Mangal Pandey refused to use the greased cartridges and single-handedly attacked and killed his officer. Mangal Pandey was hanged.
  • At Meerut in May 1857, 85 sepoys of the 3rd Cavalry regiment were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for refusing to use the greased catridges.
  • Therefore, on 10 May the sepoys broke out in open rebellion, shot their officers, released their fellow sepoys and headed towards Delhi.
Commanding Officer Merrut - General Hewitt
officer in charge of Delhi Lieutenant Willtashby


Delhi - Bahadur Shah IIreal control - General Bakht Khan
Kanpur - Nana Saheb(Dhondu Pant)Lieutenant - Tantia Tope & Azimullah, commander - Sir Hugh Wheeler, recaptured by Sir Colin Campbell
Lucknow Begum Hazrat Mahalchief commissioner - Henry Lawrence(killed in a bomb blast), recaptured by Sir Colin Campbell
Jhansi - Rani Lakshmi Bai joined by Tantia Tope, Sir Hugh Rose defeated Tantia Tope
Faizabad - Maulavi Ahmadullah
Bareilly - Khan Bahadur Khan
Jagdishpur(Bihar) - Kunwar Singh

'Begum Hazrat Mahal' & 'Khan Bahadur Khan'  escaped to Nepal during the Revolt

Causes for the Failure
  • Revolt failed to embrace the whole of India
  • moneylenders, merchants and modern educated Indians were actually against the Revolt 
  • lack of interest shown by the intellectuals
Significance and Effects
  • shaken the very foundations of British rule in India
  • brought together the disgruntled sections of society to rise against the British rule
  • 1857 Revolt was the Hindu-Muslim unity
  • it brought about fundamental changes in the character of Indian administration
  • the Governor-General received the new title of Viceroy (i.e. Lord Canning)

"The Indian War Of Independence" - V.D. Savarkar
"First Indian War Of Independence" - Karl Marx
"Causes Of Indian Revolt" - Sayed Ahmed Khan
"Sepoy Mutiny & Rebellion of 1857" - RC Mazumdar
"Civil Rebellion In Indian Mutinities" - SB Chowdhary
"Rebellion, 1857: A Symposium" - PC Joshi
"1857" - SN Sen


"Ist War of Indian Independence" - V.D. Savarkar
"A national Revolt" - Disraeli
"Neither Ist nor national nor war" - RC Majumdar

Social and cultural uprising

   Brahmo Samaj

  •  Founded - Raja Ram Mohan Roy at Calcutta  in 1828.
  • Aim - "to purify hinduism & to preach Monotheism"
  • Considered as 'First Modern Man' of India
  • Established "Atmiya Sabha" in 1815 later it changed to Brahmo Samaj in 1828
  • Combined teaching of Bible, Upnishads & koran
  • founded the Hindu College (now Presidency College, Calcutta) along with David Hare in 1817
  •  Opposed Sati Pratha, Casteism and advocated widow remarriage.
  • started the first Bengali weekly 'Samvad Kaumudi' and edited a Persian weekly 'Mirat-ul-akhbar'
 In 1886, Brahmo samaj divided into Brahmo Samaj of India headed by Keshav Chandra sen and Adi Brahmo samaj by Devendra Nath Tagore.

Arya Samaj

  • Founder - Swami Dayanand Saraswathi at Bombay in 1875
  • motto was “Back to the Vedas” "India for the Indians"
  • He was against idol worship, child marriage and caste started the Suddhi movement to bring back those Hindus who had converted to other religions to its fold.system based on birth.
  • wrote the book 'Satyartha Prakash'
  • first Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) School was founded in 1886 at Lahore
  Ramakrishna Mission

  • Founder - Swami Vivekananda (Narendranath Dutta) at Belur in Howrah in 1897
  • became the most famous disciple of Shri Ramkrishna Paramahamsa
  • participated at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago (USA) in September 1893
  • Irish woman Margret Nobel (Known as sister Nivedita) popularized it.

 Theosophical Society
  • Founder - Madam H.P. Blavatsky (Russia) & Henry Steel Olcott (US) at New York (US) in 1875
  • arrived in India and established their headquarters at Adyar in Madras in 1882
  • In 1893, Mrs. Annie Besant arrived in India and took over the leadership of the Society
  • Mrs. Annie Besant founded the Central Hindu School along with Madan Mohan Malaviya at Benaras which later developed into the Banaras Hindu University
Prarthana Samaj
  • Founder - Dr. Atmaram Pandurang at Bombay in 1867
  • Justice M.G. Ranade and R.G. Bhandarkar joined it in 1870
  • Justice Ranade promoted the Deccan Education Society

Young Bengal Movement
  • founder - Henry Vivian Derozio
  • His followers were known as the Derozians
  • attacked old traditions and decadent customs
  • advocated women’s rights and their education
Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
  • helped J.D. Bethune to establish the Bethune School
  • founded the Metropolitan Institution in Calcutta
  • protested against child marriage and favoured widow remarriage which was legalised by the Widow Remarriage Act (1856)
  • It was due to his great support for the spread of education that he was given the title of Vidyasagar
Satyashodak Samaj
  • Founder - Jyotiba Phule in 1873
  • He waged a life-long struggle against upper caste domination and Brahmanical supremacy
  • Jyotiba Phule and his wife established the first girls school at Poona in 1851
Muslim Reform Movements
The first effort was in 1863 when the Muhammad Literary Society was set up in Calcutta

Aligarh Movement

  • Founder - Sir Syed Ahmad Khan 
  • started the Mohammadan Educational Conference (1866) - as a general forum for spreading liberal ideas among the Muslims
  • founded a modern school at Aligarh (1875) - to promote English education, later grown into the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College and then into the Aligarh Muslim University

The Deoband School

(i) to propagate among the Muslims the pure teachings of the Koran and the Hadis
(ii) to keep alive the spirit of jihad aganist the foreign rulers.

Sikh Reform Movement
  • Baba Dayal Das founded the Nirankari Movement
  • The 'Namdhari Movement' was founded by Baba Ram Singh
  • Khalsa College at Amritsar in 1892

Parsi Reform Movement
  • 'Parsi Religious Reform Association' was founded at Bombay by Furdunji Naoroji and S.S. Bengalee in 1851
  • Naoroji published a monthly journal 'Jagat Mithra'

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